Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: A gift to the King|
I woke early and slipped out of bed. Getting the fires going and adding extra wood didn’t take that long. I began my walk to the guards barracks by the Curtain wall. I was thinking about what to do about the letter from the King’s brother. I couldn’t just kill him like Duke Sargonet or the Earl. The only thing I could think of was to give the letter to the King or exposing myself and that meant he would see me and possibly recognize me.
I looked up at the two dark figures blocking my way. My eye’s flicked to the single knot on a string hanging from their jerkin. I looked into their faces and started to walk around them when one side stepped. I shifted my feet, “Can I help you?”
The one in front of me snorted, “We’ve heard of you stable boy. You think you are something…”
The other cleared his throat and the first shrugged, “Why are you out so early?”
I looked back and forth, “I have a lesson this morning.”
They gave each other a look and opened the way. I bowed slightly, “Thank you sirs.”
I went back to walking but started paying attention. There were a lot more people out then normal and most I knew were either thieves or assassins. I walked into the practice yard beside the barracks to see the Captain and another man I recognized. He was Duke Godfree uncle to the King. He was an older man and I hoped he didn’t recognize me.
There were several guards stretching like I had shown them. I moved to the side and tried to relax before I started stretching. A moment later I was lost in the moment as I bent and stretched. When I stood up I was face to face with the Duke. He smiled and held a hand out to me, in it was a wooden practice sword. I knew this was going to be different even before I accepted the sword.
I followed him to the center of the yard. What followed was almost a dance of strikes and parries, lunges and blocks. When the old man stepped back I knew he had recognized me and waited. He bowed slightly, “You do your mother proud.”
I bowed slightly but kept quiet. He sighed, “I wish it had been otherwise boy, your mother was the best I ever trained. Right or wrong, killing a member of the Imperial family in a tournament, even if he did dishonor…”
He shook his head and remembered where he was. He looked around at the silent guards around us, “Say nothing of what you heard.”
The guards all nodded and the Duke turned to leave. He only took a single step before looking back at me, “Stay in the shadows boy.”
He walked away as I shivered, he knew! I looked at the guards and realized they thought he was still talking about my mother. I moved to the captain and handed the practice sword to him, “There were assassins in the street this morning. They were stopping everyone and asking their business.”
He nodded and laughed, “The Shadow Thief stole their treasure and killed their idol.”
I stared at him and looked at the other guards who nodded. One grinned, “Someone I won’t name even told me a very large basket of gold coins was given to the poor.”
I grinned, “He stole their treasure and gave it away?”
They all laughed and the captain slapped my shoulder, “I wanted you to go over some of the unarmed stuff.”
I nodded and moved back and looked around. I picked one of the larger men and they all grinned as he groaned. I began with simple blocks and holds. Once they had seen it, I had them pair up and practice. I moved around checking and correcting. I was still thinking of what I was going to do about the letter. I knew in my heart that I had to see him.
I left the practice yard later then normal and made my way back to the inn. The streets were alive with talk and gossip. Mostly about the snake skin left in Judgment square on the Speakers Stand. At the stables, I began my chores and was mostly ignored.
I did have to run a couple of errands to the brewers and to the marketplace. I was returning from the marketplace when another assassin stepped into my path. By his two knots I knew he was only an assassin and not one of their masters. I waited and he snarled, “Your business.”
I looked at him curiously and shook my head, “Go away. I have things to do.”
The dagger that dropped into his hand gave me a reason. I shifted and turned my body as he reached out to cut my face. Something they had started doing, they called it marking. My hand wrapped around his wrist and twisted as it bent the dagger back. I shifted again as his other hand disappeared into his shirt. I spun and straitened his arm before letting him go. He kept going and stumbled into a dung cart before catching his balance.
I followed after him and as the poisoned spike came out of his shirt. I slapped his face and turned slightly to catch his hand and twist. I let the spike drop before slapping him again. When he thrust with the dagger, I slapped it away and slapped him yet again. The street was filled with laughter as I kept slapping him and turning his meager attacks with the dagger away. When the laughing stopped, I stepped back, “Next time leave me to my business.”
I turned to see not one but two master assassins facing me. I bowed slightly, “Your apprentice needs more training.”
They were both stone faced but the one on the right glanced at the assassin I had humiliated. He looked back at me and smiled slowly, “Perhaps you would like to try us.”
I smiled but didn’t back up, “If I were to face two masters, it wouldn’t be with bare hands and I would have to kill you.”
They were both attentive now. I guess it was time, my mother and father were both dead and no one could touch them. I straightened, “My name is Edward Fury and I am an Imperial Peacemaker.”
They jerked as if I had struck them. They slowly raised their hands and backed away. They were gone in a moment and I glanced around before I turned to start walking again. I headed straight back to the Inn and walked into the stables and climbed to the loft. It took a little work but I managed to bring the large chest down and drag it into the tack room.
In the bottom of the chest was the clothes I needed and I changed quickly. I walked through the kitchen and ignored the girls as they gasped. I walked into the common room and Mrs. Hoard turned with her mouth open to berate whoever it was that came out without permission. I ignored her as the room quieted to silence. Master Hoard turned and straightened. He hesitated only a moment before taking a knee, “Lord Fury.”
I smiled, “Samuel, you’ve known me since I was a lad.”
I looked around and sighed, “I met Duke Godfree this morning.”
He looked up quickly before looking around the room. I shrugged, “I also just had a… discussion with two Master assassins. They decided not to waste anymore of my time.”
He swallowed and nodded, “Will you stay or go?”
I smiled, “Stay… for now. Something is wrong here, I can feel it.”
He nodded and took a big breath before standing. I turned and started to walk back to the kitchen. I bent next to Mrs. Hoard and whispered in her ear, “Take your husband upstairs, he needs to talk to you.”
I headed back to the stables and went back to my chores. We had several people come in and they all reacted the same way when I took their horses. I stayed quiet and it was a long time before things began to wind down. I finally headed to the stables and changed into dark clothing before lying down. It was another couple of hours before the sounds of the night truly went quiet.
I waited another half hour and got up. I headed for the loft and the black darkness of one end. There wasn’t even a vent on this end. I had fixed a few boards long before and now removed the three I needed. I slipped out and onto the narrow wall. I waited and listened for awhile and dropped into the shadows below the wall. Now more then before I needed to move unseen.
The shadows were my friend and I slipped through them as only a spirit could. I had been right, a lot of people were watching the Inn. It was an hour before I broke through unseen and headed towards the Curtain wall. I was watching the wall from a darkened alley when clouds covered the moon and everything got darker. By the time it had passed I was on the wall and peeking over the top. The guards had been doubled which didn’t surprise me.
Between one heartbeat and the next I rolled over the top and took a step before rolling over the other side and hanging from my claws. My descent was very slow and when I reached the bottom I waited in the shadow of the wall while a dozen guards walked by. Moving through the Nobles retreat was slower with more guards walking the street. I finally slipped through the shadows of the small wooded park. Even here there were guards.
It took me over a half hour to reach a tiny section of wall that was in shadow. Unlike the Imperial keep, the wall here wasn’t protected by magic. I hung from the top of the wall for ten minutes before I got my chance to slip over. The inside of the King’s keep was different. I climbed down the inside wall easily. There were a few shadowed spots that shielded me from guard’s eyes.
I climbed the corner of the inner manor and stopped on the second floor. I slowly made my way along the face of the manor. Guards walked past several times and never even glanced up. The large window into the King’s chamber was easy to unlock and open. In the dim light from the window I could see both the King and his wife as they slept.
I crossed to the chair beside the bed and moved it closer. I took out the letter and reached out to touch the King. His eyes snapped open and his hand reached for the dagger hanging from the bed post. I stayed in the chair as his hand stopped moving. He was looking at me now and finally sat up, “So, you are here for me.”
I smiled and shook my head, “If one of us comes for a royal, it won’t be in the dark of the night.”
He blinked and nodded, “You took Earl Garlan and Duke Sargonet.”
I nodded, “They were traitors to the Empire.”
He frowned, “With no trial…”
I smiled, “Believe me, they had a trial and were judged by the evidence against them. My judgment, My execution. The Earl and the Duke were both pawns. The Assassins guild was the tool and your brother was the one to plan it.”
He opened his mouth and I held up the letter, “This is the letter he sent to the assassin’s guild.”
He looked at the letter and seemed to sag. I held the letter out, “I could take him by the laws of the Empire, but I will give you the chance to see to his fate.”
He hesitated before taking the letter, “Why… Why did he do it?”
I looked at the letter, “It says he wanted a trade agreement sealed with the Imperial Ward as his bride. I believe he intended to have you and your family killed.”
The King looked down to the letter in his hand, “It’s still hard to believe… that he would…”
I nodded and stood, “Choose well King.”
I crossed to the window and slipped out. There was no alarm sounded and it took me awhile to get out of the keep. Crossing the Nobles retreat was as hard as it had been earlier. It took a lot longer to climb over the Curtain wall and make my way back to the Inn.
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